Get to know our experts: Max Flannery

At Veolia Water Technologies UK – we are incredibly proud of our experienced and knowledgeable teams. Here, we interview Max Flannery, our Business Development Manager - Pharmaceuticals.

Hi Max, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in pharmaceuticals?

I have always been fascinated by science and had a real desire to help others. At a young age I decided I wanted to pursue a career that combined both science and business in a field that would fulfil my ambition to make serious positive change.

My first insight into the pharmaceutical sector was in research and development at a large fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and pharmaceuticals company, where I was able to research and learn about the latest technological advancements for a specific Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID) range. It was a fascinating learning experience.

After completing my degree in Biomedical Science, I started out as a sales executive, selling scientific consumables, reagents, benchtop and freestanding equipment. I eventually became a Capital Sales Specialist specialising in life science. I was building and managing relationships with universities, research laboratories and pharmaceutical manufacturers, promoting a range of equipment from lab, GLP and GMP washers, Isolators and GMP and non-GMP sterilisers.


How did you come to work for VWT UK?

I have always been aware of Veolia Water Technologies as a world-renowned brand with a high level of service expertise. In fact, as an OEM provider, I was dealing with VWT UK during its transition from ELGA Process Water to Veolia Water Technologies UK back in 2015/2016. At the time, VWT UK was very apparent across multiple university and laboratory accounts. A role became available to look after its pharmaceutical and cosmetics accounts across England and Wales last year and I knew that there would be some great opportunities for growth in the sector. I had to learn a new specialty - pharmaceutical water treatment - but as a company that supports and promotes personal development, VWT UK really ticked every box for me.

What does your current role with VWT UK entail?

I look after new and existing customers across the pharmaceutical and cosmetics market within England and Wales. In short, I engage with customers and explore the untapped potential for new solutions and technologies that VWT UK can provide and support. Our aim is to really understand customer needs and the specific business challenges with respect to purified water and WFI technologies and solutions.

As a Business Development Manager, I act as the bridge between the customer and the wider team at VWT UK and our product ranges, and help to guide customers along their buying journey. By exceeding expectations in both pre- and post-sale, my aim is to ensure that a longstanding relationship is developed that can lead to future business growth, whether that be with the end-user or the engineering and/or M&E contractor on the job. 

In order for me to cover such a vast region, great teamwork and communication is required between myself and our multiple sales teams, to ensure knowledge is shared, best practise is maintained and the customer’s needs are always at the forefront.

What is a typical day like for you?

It’s varied to say the least; but for the most part I spend my day looking for new opportunities, that they are secured and delivered effectively. Typically, I will arrange site visits or online conference calls with prospective customers to identify their needs and requirements. Once we are familiar with the customer or end-user’s requirements, we work towards exceeding their expectations and securing orders. Most importantly, we look to establish a future working business relationship with them.

Has COVID-19 affected your day to day work?

The most noticeable difference has been the transition from being on the road every day to mostly working from home, as site visits have naturally become heavily restricted. There have been some exceptions where a site survey visit has been permitted, but these are limited.

In terms of our customers, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every business differently. Some have been more affected than others and this has been reflected in their CAPEX spending. However, the pandemic has also brought about some new opportunities, specifically for some biotech and pharmaceutical companies who are pursuing a COVID-19 vaccine. In this instance some project developments have been fast tracked while others are on schedule; but supporting these developments during this challenging time has required a great deal of change in our approach to how we do business.

What do you think are the main issues or requirements currently facing the pharmaceutical sector?

I think it is safe to say that COVID-19 and its global impact is the biggest issue. It has been reported that during the pandemic some treatments, including cancer treatments have been in decline. This will have an impact on some of the pharmaceutical manufacturers who produce these treatments as well as the untreated patients and their families, of course.

As a whole, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies have been able to continue their operations, with minor supply chain disruption. Like all of us they have just had to adjust to the new restrictions. Across the sector, it is apparent that more people are working from home, applying rota-based systems and some are doing regular weekly COVID-19 tests across their sites.

Are there any key technologies that VWT UK offers this sector?

We offer a whole host of technologies from <1000L/hr up to 20,000L/hr purified water (PW) or water for injection (WFI) solutions. We are able to accommodate the full market’s needs, from cold membrane based to hot distillation based systems, with both chemical and hot water sanitisable generation systems. Typically, within the sector you will find our IonPro LX, Orion, Rapide Strata and Polaris Distiller solutions.

As generation only forms part of a pharmaceutical company’s requirement, other factors may also need to be considered, such as storage, distribution and the method of sanitisation. The end application at a point of use may also stipulate whether the water should be cold or not (PW or WFI). This would influence the customer’s choice for the most suitable and cost-effective technologies. Usually, it is at this stage of the process that customers turn to us for assistance and guidance so that we can share our wealth of knowledge and experience to offer the best solution with our specific WFI range.

Can you tell us a bit more about Polaris? What does each model within the range offer?

Our Polaris range of equipment consists of the clean steam generators (CSG), multi-effect distillers (MED) and vapour compression distillers (VCD). The Polaris CSG can produce between 100 and 5,000 kg/hr of pure steam (typically at 3 bar) and is compliant with EN285 steam quality limits. The Polaris MED model produces up to 10,000 L/hr of hot WFI, typically at 85oC, from a purified water feed. This also comes as a combi MED, allowing for simultaneous pure steam and hot WFI generation from a single unit. Our third Polaris model is the VCD which produces up to 15,000 L/hr of WFI, either hot or cold from a variety of feed water quality supplies.

Fun fact: favourite film?

It has to be Gladiator; who wouldn’t want a name like Maximus Decimus Meridius.


For more information on our range of pharmaceutical water technologies, please click below.

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Max Flannery

About the Author

Max Flannery

Max started his career in supporting commercial scientific functions including proposals and quotations and then developed his skills into varying scientific sales and account management roles. His focus has been with capital equipment over the last several years specifically targeting OEMs, Laboratories, Life Science and Pharmaceutical accounts covering a range of equipment from recirculating chillers, laboratory washers, endoscopy washers, GMP washers / sterilizers and isolators. The majority of this equipment requires purified water or water for injection where a lot of Max’s experience and network is now applied to Veolia Water Technologies specifically as a business development manager for Pharmaceuticals.